3 Asteroids to pass swiftly past Earth

Introduction

In the vast expanse of our solar system, Earth frequently encounters asteroids, those rocky remnants of the early solar system. While some asteroids capture our attention due to their potential threat, others pass by with barely a whisper. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at three such asteroids that have made swift and uneventful passages past Earth.

  1. Asteroid 2012 TC4

Asteroid 2012 TC4 made headlines in 2012 when it was first discovered. It is a relatively small asteroid, measuring between 12 to 40 meters (39 to 131 feet) in diameter. In October 2017, it returned for a close encounter with our planet. At its closest approach, it came within approximately 44,000 kilometers (27,340 miles) of Earth’s surface, which is closer than some of our geostationary satellites.

While this might sound alarmingly close, it is essential to remember that the vast majority of asteroids that approach Earth are small and pose no real danger. Scientists took the opportunity to study 2012 TC4 to improve our understanding of tracking and predicting the paths of such objects. Fortunately, it passed by without incident and is now safely back in its orbit.

  1. Asteroid 2004 BL86

Asteroid 2004 BL86 is another relatively large asteroid that approached Earth in January 2015. With a diameter of approximately 325 meters (1,066 feet), it was more massive than 2012 TC4. However, it passed by at a much greater distance, about 1.2 million kilometers (745,000 miles) away, or roughly three times the distance from Earth to the Moon.

What made 2004 BL86 particularly interesting was that it had its own small moonlet in tow. This binary system provided a rare opportunity for astronomers to study the dynamics and composition of such objects, enhancing our knowledge of the asteroid population in our solar system.

  1. Asteroid 2010 WC9

In May 2018, a previously unknown asteroid named 2010 WC9 had a close approach to Earth. It measures about 50 meters (164 feet) in diameter and passed at a distance of approximately 203,000 kilometers (126,000 miles), which is roughly half the distance to the Moon. This asteroid generated considerable interest among amateur astronomers, who managed to capture its swift journey across the night sky.

What makes 2010 WC9 notable is the fact that it had been “lost” for eight years before its re-discovery. Tracking asteroids can be a challenging task due to their small size and ever-changing orbits, making re-identifying them a significant achievement for astronomers.

Conclusion

While the mention of “asteroids” often conjures images of potential catastrophic collisions with Earth, it’s important to remember that not all asteroids are dangerous. Most of them pass by our planet without incident, providing scientists with valuable opportunities to learn more about the solar system and enhance our planetary defense capabilities.

The three asteroids we’ve discussed in this blog post – 2012 TC4, 2004 BL86, and 2010 WC9 – are just a few examples of the countless asteroids that regularly visit our cosmic neighborhood. By studying and tracking these celestial wanderers, scientists continue to improve our ability to understand, predict, and mitigate potential asteroid threats to Earth, making our planet a safer place for future generations.

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